little-boy-eating-a-peach-2-1429635

 

 

 

I came across a really interesting new study this year investigating how parents can help their children learn to eat a disliked vegetable. They compared the following five groups:

  1. A control group that didn’t get any intervention
  2. Parents presented the vegetable every day
  3. Parents presented the vegetable every day and modelled eating that vegetable (i.e. the parent ate it in front of the child)
  4. Parents presented the vegetable every day and praised/rewarded (with a non-food item) the child for “trying” it
  5. Parents presented the vegetable every day, modelled eating it and praised/rewarded the child for “trying” it

 

At the end of the study significant differences in liking were found between the experimental groups. Liking was highest (>60%) in the modelling, rewards and repeated exposure group and the rewards and repeated exposure group, intermediate (>26%) in the modelling and repeated exposure and repeated exposure groups, and lowest in the control group (10%). This tells us that repeated exposure to a disliked food, modelling and rewarding eating behaviour can potentially increase children’s vegetable consumption. So the key message is that although your child “doesn’t eat/like” a specific food it doesn’t mean they never will. Keep exposing them without forcing, model eating it and praise/reward if they make an attempt.

In summary, here are 3 simple steps to helping your child learn to eat a food they currently dislike:

  1. Present the food regularly
  2. Model eating the food
  3. Praise/reward any attempts to touch, eat or interact with the food

Here’s the link to the article if you are interested in reading more:

‘Why don’t you try it again?’ A comparison of parent led, home based interventions aimed at increasing children’s consumption of a disliked vegetable